WordPress has evolved to be much more than just a blogging platform, from online stores to full-on business platforms, there is very little WordPress cannot do for a webmaster just starting out, or a company looking to shape their online presence a little more.
Design is an essential part of a website, and WordPress has made website design somewhat of an interactive experience, where there are thousands of free themes to choose from, and many more thousands to be found in marketplaces that sell WordPress themes on behalf of indepdenent creators. With so much options to choose from, what are the things we should look out for when selecting our next best theme?
I was recently in discussion with Aigars Silkalns, Founder of Colorlib -- his free themes have been downloaded over 1,000,000 times, positioning him as an expert in the field of theme development, and customer support for WordPress bloggers. We spoke about the general process of picking a WordPress theme, and also what makes a theme 'great' and how users can best differentiate themes to make the right pick.
1. What makes a theme "good"?
Usually themes are all about design and functionality. Some will appreciate great design and polished interface but some users will look into number of page builder modules, theme options, included plugins and much more. We can compare the balance between both, and look for themes that provide as much information as possible and as many demos, so everyone can find what they are looking for.
2. Business blogging vs. traditional blogging
Should bloggers invest more in selecting themes that allow to build business homepages, and why?
Ultimately the selection between a business and traditional theme is going to come down to the goal you are trying to achieve with your blog. If you are looking to build a real personal brand or business then a proper landing/business page won't hurt. However, you can test the waters first with your content and can always go back to build service or business around it. For Colorlib it started with a simple blog with no real plan in place and at some point I come up with idea to create WordPress themes and that and it changed my focus form blog to something bigger. You can always make this switch when the right time comes and it is not difficult. The first and foremost is to engage your readers and build subscriber base and brand.
3. The WordPress theme trends to watch out for.
Right now parallax and one page layouts dominate static website niche and there is no sign that this trend will fade. This kind of websites gets better and better and users love them. When it comes to blog themes it is all about minimal blog themes that can be configurable layout for more personal feel. Also grid style blog themes are trending thanks to popularity of Pinterest and their stylish grid.
4. Why choose a premium theme over free?
Aigars has strong influence in both free and premium markets, his project Colorlib -- aside from offering plenty of his own made free themes, is also a platform for finding premium theme designs through a narrow selection process.
Premium themes are generally more flexible with many layout options and usually comes with premium Visual Drag & Drop Page builders included. That's something no free themes can offer. While many theme sellers claim that premium themes comes with better support usually is not true as some free themes comes with an outstanding support in order to build their brand as strong contender and maybe up-sell some products once trust is established but it usually happens naturally and their user experience is not affected at all.
In closing this, I just wanted to add that WordPress security should be another very important factor to consider, always verify your theme downloads and the websites you are downloading them from. Anything that sounds too good, is most definitely going to have some catch attached to it.